I say “children” only because we—their parents and grandparents—are more reserved, afraid, or cautious than our children. Even though we may not admit it, the fact is that we’re already sharing information on our environment and ourselves with many others who use it to their advantage. The fact is also that in the future there’ll be significantly more of this sort of information collection and more opportunities to use it.
Let’s take a look at smart homes. Information on each heater, the position of blinds, lighting in all rooms, the audio and video devices, and ultimately, windows, doors, and locks is collected in one place (i.e., the cloud). Combined with the weather and calendar information, these collected data provide enough information for the smart system to operate the house by itself. It heats or cools individual rooms, sets the blinds, and turns on the lights when we’re not home. If it’s also connected to the car, tracking the driver’s location, it opens the courtyard gates at the right moment, unlocks the main door, and starts playing our favorite music.
When devices take care of themselves
The moment is not far off when your car will order its own service at the most convenient time—that is when the service is necessary and you need the car the least. Considering that the first self-driving vehicles are already yesterday’s news and that even race cars no longer need racing stars to drive them, the moment when the car drives itself to the service center on its own is probably not far away either.
But alongside the information from our environment, we’re also going to send increasingly more personal data into the cloud. We’re disclosing a great deal of such information through our smartphones, watches, and similar “wearables” as it is. A good example of this is Google Traffic, where throughout their trips drivers send data on their drives to Google, which in turn provides very accurate and real-time information on traffic conditions, congestion, and nearly stopped and stop-and-go traffic to all Google Maps users (by the way, Google has been collecting data and providing this service since 2007).Alongside data from our environment, we’re also going to send increasingly more personal data into the cloud. Click To Tweet
Just like smartphones, data on our behavior will soon also be communicated by other equipment: anything from shoes to various sports equipment, such as tennis rackets, jump ropes, balls, bikes, skis, and so on. Even our suitcases, toothbrushes, the glasses or bottles we pour our drinks out of, or any other item we use on a daily basis will be no less discrete.
Life as a gamer
In order to make our lives part of one big online game, we’ll have to change our user experience and accept a different one, in addition to collecting data and being willing to share this data with others (if Google Traffic hasn’t convinced you that we’re doing that already, at least those of you that often run or bike know the Strava app, in which you can compare and share your results with other users).
We aren’t technologically far away from this point, either. First we’ll start communicating more naturally, which will be made possible by one of the big guys (Apple/Siri, Google/Home, Microsoft/Cortana or Amazon/Alexa). Projections (at least the most realistic and interesting ones) will no longer be provided on flat screens, but through virtual-reality projection systems, for which the current best solutions are offered by the providers mentioned above (Google/VR and Microsoft/HoloLens).
“It’ll still take a while.” Will it?
You can say “yes, but it’ll still take a while before we really start using that” or “my children may do all that, but not me.” Five years ago, even I wouldn’t have thought that today some lady over seventy would tell me: “Google Traffic rocks!” But she has.
This shows that we’re all ready to give up many things (including our privacy) if we find something interesting and useful. We tend to very quickly accept and get used to things that are useful, fun, and also meet our basic needs according to Maslow’s hierarchy (in the case of our virtual lives as gamers, probably even all four top needs).We’re all ready to give up many things (including our privacy) if we find something interesting and useful. Click To Tweet
So, if the main question is no longer “Are we really heading in this direction?” but instead “When will we get there and what will it look like?” the time has come for everyone involved in marketing and sales to prepare for the changes.
These are the steps we should already start taking today:
- Changing our product and marketing strategy, but not only one time and during a watershed moment. Keeping abreast of trends and gradual changes demands ongoing adaptation and renewal of the strategy and approaches used by both marketing and sales.
- Keeping abreast of and having a good knowledge of what is known today as the IoT. A lot of information on individuals, their behavior, needs, interests, desires, and the exact times and sizes of their desires and needs are already available today, but there will be much more available by the day.
- All this new, additional, and significantly more up-to-date information will make it possible for marketing and sales to provide an even better personalized user experience, where everything will be completely adapted to every user at the most appropriate moment.
- The socialization motive and information gathered in one place will make it possible to take a better advantage of connections between people and hence of the individuals’ positive personal experiences, their satisfaction with providers, and their possible suggestions and recommendations of these experiences to others. In other words, it’ll be possible to take advantage of the much stronger mutual influence on purchase decisions among all that are in some kind of a mutual relationship.
From where I stand, the fact that, my real-life actions can affect the real-life actions of others via the virtual world reminds me strongly of gaming. What about you?
If you’d like to know more about what marketing and sales will be doing in a few years and how they will be doing it, if you’d like to add something or don’t agree that our real lives are starting to be entangled with the virtual world, let me know. Any feedback will be most welcome.